In Defense of the About Page

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It’s long been accepted as a self-evident truth that your Home page is the most important page on your website. It’s your first impression, handshake, elevator pitch, morning makeup routine and “Hello world!” all rolled into one. 

But I think as the world becomes overly polished, a Home page risks becoming artificial. It becomes the false facade once popular in the rural downtowns of the American West, where a 2-story brick facade might hide a 1-story clapboard shack, but you could charge 20% more. Or in today’s terms, it’s like New American Ranch architecture, that omnipresent McMansion of the suburbs, where the curbside is bedazzled with glass windows and nested gables, but the sides are barren vinyl wastelands. Web visitors don’t trust the house; they want to meet the owner.

But I digress. Point being, skeptical visitors to your website can become jaded with your home page and general web layout. Design is easy to buy these days. “Enough with the gingerbread. I want to see something real!”

I’m here in defense of the oft-neglected About Page, which I think is the natural inheritor of the Home page. Here’s my thesis: Nothing builds trust with your Reader faster than sharing your personal story of growth. 

The Importance of the About Page

What first shoveled coal into my thought-train about the importance of the About Page? Mostly the rapid rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). My Google Discover feed is 20% Ukraine, 10% stock market, and 70% how I won’t have a white-collar job in six months because the robots are coming for my job. I think that’s a little overblown, but for certain, the days of regurgitating what you learned last week and calling that “blogging” are over. You can’t type faster than a supercomputer can think. The only difference between you and a supercomputer is that you are an “I,” and a supercomputer is an “it.” Leverage the power of the personal pronoun!

I think blogging will become more about personal perspective than objective facts. Less encyclopedia, more novella. Recipe blogs are a perfect example of this. There are only so many ways to bake blueberry muffins, but there are an infinite amount of stories and tips you can pack between the lines of the ingredient lists. (Although, dear food blogger, you don’t need to start all recipe introductions with ‘Back in 1894, my great-great-grandmother …'”).

The Wrong Way to Compose an About Page

The wrong way to write an About Page is to drone through your corporate timeline. “We were founded in 1986, went public in 1991, merged in 2002, acquired XYZ subsidiary in 2007,” ad nauseam. No one cares about your corporate genealogy, and I forbid you from ever using the word “subsidiary” on your About Page! Pontificating barely earns applause; it never wins friends. To quote from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.” 

(The irony of me pontificating on my blog about not pontificating is not lost on me, by the way. But half of the fun of this blog is throwing out unconventional theses and seeing whether they age like wine or like milk.)

The Better Way to Share Your Story

Instead, I think the fruitful way to write an About Page is to share your story of growth. “Elena quit her secure-but-boring job as a corporate Controller to follow her dream: Drive her own Cuban-American food truck! She shined up a mechanic’s special with a few cans of Rustoleum, design her menu on Shutterfly, and then she hit the roads of Miami. Today, Elena has served over 30,000 enthusiastic customers …” 

You get the idea. Elena is a person; Elena’s Cuban Food Truck LLC is an entity. If you must refer to a company, use “we,” not “they.” The first-person point of view packs so much more oomph than the third-person! By writing in the first-person, you naturally compose a character arc. (But avoid anything beyond cursory use of the second-person unless you want to sound like a commercial.)

Where to Find Examples of Great About Pages

You can find compilations of the greatest About pages simply by searching Google for “best About Pages.” HubSpot and Kinsta and Search Engine Land and Wix and all their brethren will be happy to serve you a smorgasbord. I won’t rehash their findings. I would caution you to study examples of engaging About Pages, but don’t compose yours simultaneously. When you read someone else’s work, you reflexively imitate it. Wait a day or two before putting pen to paper, and you’ll preserve your own voice.

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